China economy

By Eswar Prasad, Karim Foda, and Abhinav Rangarajan

China is making steady progress on its path to making the renminbi an international currency, as the FT writes in a Special Report, The Future of the Renminbi, published today.

See here for an Interactive graphic that traces the renminbi’s progress since 2000.

China continues to gradually open up its capital account, make offshore renminbi liquidity more easily available, and sign up more renminbi trading centers (London and Frankfurt most recently). To become a reserve currency, China also needs to let the renminbi’s value be market-determined rather than being tightly managed relative to the US dollar.

On March 16th of this year, China took another step towards freeing up its currency. The daily trading band around the renminbi’s central value relative to the U.S. dollar was widened from 1 percent to 2 per cent in either direction. The reasonable expectation had been that this would lead to faster appreciation of the currency and more volatility. Instead, the opposite happened. Was the shift to a wider trading band just a head fake? Continue reading »

Official statements on bad loans in Chinese banks come with a health warning: analysts widely believe they understate the real level of delinquency by a wide – though unknowable – margin.

Nevertheless, official statistics can be helpful in assessing whether the problem is deepening or alleviating. In that context, an analysis published on Thursday by EY, the accounting firm, shows stress levels rising rapidly among China’s top banks. Continue reading »

A closely-watched indicator of economic activity in China is showing an unexpectedly robust reading for September, according to an announcement on Tuesday. But is a real growth rebound underway, following several signs of a slowdown in the third quarter so far?

Hong Kong stock market investors appeared to reserve judgement, allowing the Hang Seng index to slip 0.49 per cent, or 118 points on Tuesday to 23,837. Economists and other survey-based indicators of Chinese economic activity reinforced the skepticism. Continue reading »

There is more gloomy news for the world’s second largest economy. A comprehensive official survey of Chinese households, businesses and banks finds demand for loans slackening further in the third quarter, suggesting scant prospects of a reprieve from the credit slump seen in August and July.

Some 3,100 banks interviewed by the People’s Bank of China (PBoC), the central bank, reported a significant easing in loan demand among all three categories of firms – small, medium and large – for the third quarter, which ends at the end of September.

The loan demand index fell to 66.6 per cent, down from 71.5 per cent (see chart). The muted demand for loans is set to create headwinds for the PBoC’s initiative this week to boost economic growth by injecting Rmb500bn ($81bn) into the five largest state-owned banks, economists said. Continue reading »

China’s plan to spread the wealth of coastal cities into poorer interior regions is starting to pick up speed, with better transport infrastructure in particular likely to accelerate the process, according to HSBC Global Research.

While China’s coastal regions have seen breakneck growth – the nominal GDP of seven coastal provinces has increased nearly 200 times since 1978 – its vast inland areas, remote and undeveloped, have lagged behind. Per capita income in the coastal regions of China is twice as high as in inland provinces. Continue reading »

A huge bonfire of the brands awaits auto manufacturers in China as some 90m car owners prepare to disregard loyalty when they chose their next model.

A survey of some 2,400 car owners conducted by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) found an itch to switch brands among 83 per cent of respondents who drove domestic Chinese brand cars. Of these, only 30 per cent said they would drive another domestic brand as their next car, while a full 40 per cent said they planned to plump for a Volkswagen.

The findings suggest that the next big trend for auto manufacturers in the Chinese market – which has expanded tenfold since 2000 to register annual sales of around 20m units – may not be so much concerned with chasing growth as with inculcating brand loyalty. Continue reading »

China’s leading credit rating agency will soon begin to provide English language ratings for local Chinese debt in the latest sign of a growing desire on the part of international investors to access the country’s highly restricted domestic debt markets.

“Dagong is making preparations to release ratings for onshore debt in English early next year,” the company’s chairman, Guan Jianzhong, told beyondbrics. “There are more international investors looking at Chinese debt.” Continue reading »

By Rafael Halpin, China Confidential

For a sector regularly called “the most important in the universe”, there is a remarkable lack of consensus over the Chinese housing market. Much of the debate boils down to whether China is currently under- or over-supplied with homes.

The absence of any comprehensive data on just how many houses there are in China, has led to wildly divergent views. But, as we will seek to demonstrate in this article, despite the lack of any solid data on the total number of homes in China, it is still possible to present a strong statistical case that the market is currently under-supplied with modern housing.  Continue reading »

By Bo Zhuang of Trusted Sources

Overhauling state-owned enterprises (SOEs) is key to the Chinese growth story for the next 10 years. But, while the approach being taken by the Xi Jinping leadership acknowledges the need for change, it also stresses the parallel need to strengthen the Communist Party State. This could mean reform will take a rather different form to the assumptions of markets, which have risen on the back of expectations of market-friendly change. Continue reading »

By Jim O’Neill, Bruegel

Is it all over for the rise of the BRIC grouping (Brazil, Russia, India and China)?

On one level, this seems like a rather odd time to be asking such a question, especially when the political leaders of the BRICS countries (the four named above plus South Africa) have recently agreed to set up a joint development bank to be headquartered in Shanghai. So, the BRICS name is certainly here to stay, and in terms of global governance, their influence is likely to rise as a group because of the bank. Continue reading »

By Hayden Briscoe and Hua Cheng, AllianceBernstein

In spite of worries about a collapse in China’s property market, we think that the financial system will navigate the coming credit cycle if banks can buy time to resolve loan problems — and receive government support if needed. Continue reading »

By Hayden Briscoe and Jenny Zeng, AllianceBernstein.

Concerns about a possible collapse in China’s property market continue to grow. However, our research suggests that fundamentals are more robust than many people think. The biggest danger lies in the potential for policy mistakes.

Investors are understandably worried about the headlines coming out of China’s property sector. Sales fell in July after having seemed to stabilize in June. For the first half of this year, sales nationally fell by 6.7% year over year, to Rmb3tn (US$488.4bn). That’s the first time such a steep fall has occurred since 2011. Continue reading »

By Paul Hodges of International eChem

China’s July lending level of just Rmb 385bn ($62.6bn) has surprised financial markets, which were expecting an increase in stimulus. But bigger surprises may lie ahead.

The strong link between lending and passenger car sales suggests we may be about to see major changes in the world’s largest car market.

The key to forecasting China’s auto demand since 2008 has been the level of bank lending, as the chart below shows. Continue reading »

By Andrew Collier, Orient Capital Research

The threat of a collapse in the shadow banking market looms over China like a hawk swooping down on its prey. Shadow loans are made outside the formal banking system and are only lightly regulated, making them a significant source of financial stress if the Chinese economy slows significantly. One of the biggest source of shadow loans, Trusts, is showing signs of weakness that could turn into a big problem for China’s economy.

There now is a staggering Rmb 11.7tn in outstanding Trust loans, approximately one-quarter of the entire shadow banking market. Using a list of 31 failed Trusts supplied by the Central University of Finance and Economics in Beijing, we examined them to see what they tell us about the fate the entire Trust industry – and by extension shadow banking in China.

What we found is a disturbing harbinger of things to come for China’s economy. Continue reading »